Anson Marston was born in Seward, Illinois on May 31, 1864 to George and
Sarah Scott Marston. He received a C.E. degree (1889) from Cornell University.
Marston worked as a construction engineer (1889-1891) for the Missouri Pacific
Railroad. He joined the staff at Iowa State College (University) in 1892 as
Professor and Head (1892-1917) of the Department of Civil Engineering and became
Dean (1904-1932) of the Division of Engineering. Maston, after stepping down and
resuming teaching duties, was named Senior Dean (1932-1937) until he retired in
While at Iowa State, he developed the Engineering Division into a prestigious
program. Marston established the Engineering Experiment Station (1904) and
became its first Director (1904-1932). He designed Iowa State College sewage
disposal system and water tower (Marston Water Tower), and initiated the
building of Engineering Hall (Marston Hall). He also supervised the building of
the Campanile and the restoration of Lake LaVerne. He established the Iowa State
Highway Commission (Iowa Department of Transportation).
In addition to his work for Iowa State, Marston also engaged in consulting work.
For the city of Ames he designed the water pumping station, the reservoir, the
elevated water tank, and the Ames Water Pollution Control system. He served as a
consultant on many projects such as the Marshalltown (Iowa) sewage system,
Manning (Iowa) water tower, and riverfront improvements with flood control at
Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, and Council Bluffs. He also designed and consulted on
waterworks projects for Waterloo (Iowa) and Rockford (Illinois). Anson Marston
was also consultant on both the national and international level. He worked with
the Hoover Commission on the Panama and Nicaragua Canals, the Mississippi River
Flood Control Review Board, the Florida Everglades Research Commission, and the
Columbia Basin Reclamation Project. In addition, he worked on several civil
engineering projects in the cities of Lincoln (Nebraska), Chicago, Miami ,
Oakland, and Alameda (California).
During World War I, he served as a Major (1917-1918) in the Engineering Corps
and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (1918). He was a Colonel of Engineers
(1924-1928) for the U. S. Reserve Corps and a member of the auxiliary reserve
(1928-1944). At the time of his death he held the honorary commission of
Anson Marston's main area of research was in road construction, culverts and
sewer systems, compression and pressure tests, and load distributions. In
addition he studied soil dynamics, bridges, and flood control. He developed a
theory commonly used in computing the backfill loads on pipes and received
patents for special types of reinforcing for concrete pipes and for the methods
of reducing loads carried by closed conduits buried in embankments or ditches.
He wrote over 200 technical publications, books, and manuals.
Anson Marston belonged to numerous professional organizations, boards, and
commissions. He was a member of National Research Council, the American Society
of Engineers (Director, 1920-1922; Vice-President, 1923-1925; and
President,1929), American Society for Testing Materials, the Society for
Promotion of Engineering Education, the Land Grant College Engineering
Association (President, 1913-1914), the Joint Concrete Culvert Pipe Committee
(Chairman, 1920-1932), and the Committee C-6 on Drain Tile. He was also the
Chairman for the Advisory Board on Highway Research National Research Committee
and the Chairman of the Valuation Committee American Society of Civil Engineers.
In his prestigious career he won the Fuertes Medal (1904) from Cornell
University, the Chanute Medal (1904) from the Western Society of Engineers, and
the Lamme Medal (1941) from the Society for the Promotion of Engineering
Education. He also received honorary degrees from the University of Nebraska
(1925), Michigan State College (1927), and Iowa State (1948). Iowa State also
established the Marston Medal (1938) in honor of Marston. The Marston Medal
recognizes outstanding alumni of the College of Engineering.
Anson Marston married Alice Day December 14, 1892. They had two sons: Morrill
Watson and Anson Day. Marston died October 21, 1949 from injuries he received
during a car accident.